In 2015 after a long career in administrative support, I took the plunge and went back to school to pursue a lifelong dream of becoming a nurse. The demands of long clinical and didactic days, balancing family and home, the emotional and physical toll patient care takes, and the endless hours studying to pass the boards are nothing compared to the grueling task of finding a nursing position as a new graduate.

I interviewed with a few staffing firms. One offered something similar to a new-grad transition program, but I did not feel it provided enough training. The lack of comprehensive, extensive training would leave anyone open to liability. The risks are too high, and not worth losing my license over. There are many firms that offer per diem positions, but they provide no benefits, and even less training. As a new graduate, I did not qualify for travel assignments because I do not yet have the required experience.

Nursing interviews also proved to be very different and challenging.

Happily, I have accepted a new graduate position as a cardiovascular nurse at a major Northern California hospital. Here, I share where I believe staffing firms can fill the gaps so they may help others like me.

  1. Writing and interviewing. Provide workshops on résumé and cover letter writing as well as the interview process. I ended up hiring two interview preparation professionals. It would have been great if staffing firms had made these services available to me.
  2. Virtual and in-person job fair prep. New grads might need help with creating an elevator pitch, what they can highlight to help them make stand out in the sea of new graduate nurses looking for their first positions.
  3. Support groups. I belong to a few new grad online support groups. When a success story is posted, we all made note of the things that worked to help the person land their job, and applied those to our own job search efforts. Having a staffing firm professional as part of these groups would help provide a complete view — and could bring more candidates through your doors.
  4. Network building. Offer advice on creating and developing a network through LinkedIn, or other professional platforms. Guidance as to how a new grad can start the outreach and develop professional relationships would be extremely helpful.
  5. Feedback. Recruiters are notorious for ghosting — ending the relationship abruptly with no communication — when a candidate is not chosen for a position. This leaves us with no way to know why we weren’t selected for a position. We know bad news can be hard to deliver, but we’d rather have the opportunity to improve by hearing the hard truth.

Help the new graduate understand the realities of the situation. Training new nurses is a very expensive and timeconsuming process. New graduate positions are not readily available, and some programs are only offered once a year. The process is also very competitive; often hundreds apply for 10 positions. There is also the fact that the “new graduate” classification expires, which then disqualifies you from applying to such positions.

Once new graduates are armed with this knowledge and realize they have the support of the staffing firm, reality shifts. Staffing firms and hospitals can collaborate and develop a successful partnership. Staffing firms have the know-how and resources to get qualified talent. Hospitals and clinics have the clinical staff and facilities to train. And they both need skilled talent.

As the population ages, and significant changes to healthcare are anticipated, the need for trained nurses will be higher than ever. Staffing firms, in conjunction with hospital administrators, have a real opportunity to make a difference, and change the status quo for new graduates.